(USA Today) -- That giant man in the center of the photo above is Brandon Poulson, shown wearing the uniform cap of the Healdsburg Prune Packers — an actual team in the Golden State Collegiate Baseball League based in Northern California.
Poulson is 24 years old. He throws 100 mph. He’s 6’6″, 240 pounds, and he runs a 6.6-second 60-yard dash. Though he has never been drafted, the Minnesota Twins signed him to a $250,000 deal this week and sent him to their Rookie level club in Elizabethton.
All this has been reported by the Associated Press and the Twins website. And we’ve got that Instagram photo from the Prune Packers, showing Poulson with his mother and the team president. Otherwise, the baseball existence of Brandon Poulson would seem like a massive hoax.
Here are five more remarkable details from the AP story:
1. After playing football at Santa Rosa Junior College, Poulson went to work for his father’s excavating business, expecting to take it over someday.
Until last fall, Poulson was operating heavy machinery — driving 18-wheelers, front-loaders and backhoes. All the while, he played baseball in a Sunday night men’s league, fittingly called the “Wine Country” league.
“I went to work with my father and didn’t want to gamble with sports anymore,” Poulson said.
2. He returned to more competitive baseball at San Francisco’s Academy of Art University. According to baseball-reference.com, the school has never produced a player to ascend past Rookie-level ball.
3. Poulson’s probably faster than his 6.6-second time in the 60. He ran it in socks.
At Academy of Art’s scout day, only the position players were running 60-yard dashes until Poulson turned up and insisted on sprinting. He hadn’t warmed up and was wearing only socks.
“I had cold legs,” he said. “Maybe I would have run it faster.”
4. Elliott Strankman, the Twins scout who signed him, said Poulson has the “best pure arm strength I’ve ever seen.”
5. In the Golden State League this summer, Poulson allowed six hits in 12 1/3 innings and struck out 31 batters. That means that 84-percent of the outs he recorded were by strikeout. And on average, he yielded fewer than one fair ball per inning.